WASHINGTON DC -- While the business of government goes on, friends and his House colleagues are remembering Congressman Paul Gillmor. The Congressman was found dead in his Washington-area apartment on Wednesday. He was 68.
The Arlington County Police Department in Virginia has released a preliminary finding that there was nothing suspicious about Gillmor's death. The department says there were no signs of foul play, and no signs of forced entry. Two aides, who had a key to the house, found Gillmor near the interior steps that lead to the second floor.
Funeral services are planned for next week in Columbus and Tiffin. According to his official House web site, Mr. Gillmor represented Ohio's 5th District since he was first elected to Congress in 1988. Ohio's 5th District includes all of Crawford, Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Huron, Paulding, Putnam, Sandusky, Seneca, Van Wert, Williams and Wood counties, and parts of Ashland, Lucas, Mercer and Wyandot counties.
He may have come from the small northwest Ohio town of Old Fort, but at the seat of government in the world's most powerful nation, Paul Gillmor is being remembered and honored. At his office, he's also being mourned. "It's really rough right now," said Gillmor's Communications Director Brad Mascho. "Everyone's going through their own levels of grief. I can't use the word 'shock' enough."
In Gillmor's office, you can still see the trapping of 20 years in Congress. "PG," as many called him, had many friends on both sides of the aisle, perhaps none closer than Representative John Tanner. "[Paul Gillmor] typifies, I believe, what's needed here in Congress," said Tanner, (D) Tennesse. "No rancor, no blind partisanship."
And since Paul Gillmor's sudden passing, a steady stream of well-wishers have called, written, or stopped by to express sympathy. Even the representative from Guam stopped to pay her respects. "Although we are 400 members of Congress in the House alone, we still are a family." said Representative Madeleine Bordallo, (D) Guam. "When anything like this ever occurs, we're always there to lend our assistance and our sympathy to the family."
"The outpouring of support has been amazing," said Mascho. "Constituents from all across our district, people from across America have called in to tell us how much they supported the Congressman, how much the things that he stood for were what he wanted them to stand for."
One aide said Gillmor was a work-horse, not a show-horse. In Washington, his work is being remembered, and appreciated. "He was a gentle man who was here for the right reasons," said Tanner. "We both believed that neither party has a monopoly on wisdom and virtue, and when we come here, we come as public officials who hopefully ought to seek solutions to America's problems, not Democrat or Republican, but America's."
"Paul -- that's where he was," added Tanner.
US Senator George Voinovich entered the state legislature in 1966, the same year as a young Paul Gillmor. "As far as I'm concerned, I'm going to miss him," said Voinovich. "He's a great friend of mine, and I think young people who aspire to become a great legislator should study what Paul Gillmor did for his district as a Congressman, and also as a leader in the Ohio Senate."
Maybe Paul Gillmor's lasting legacy will be a change in the tone of American politics. "A lot of people think of politics, and you think you have to be cut-throat, or you have to squash the other guy," said Mascho. "Paul Gillmor wasn't that kind of person."